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[GUIDE] Mixing for Free (updated 3/27/03)


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Buzz comes with a tutorial. I was using it the other day. Well I've heard so much about it that I thought I'd better dl it and see what it's all about. It seems like quite a fun little tool. Not quite sure where it'll fit into my music making process yet though :)

In my experience, Buzz is very weak for creating lead melodies. However, it does a very good job with beats, basslines, textures, and arpeggiating techno treble stuff. In general though, I kinda have the same problem that you do -- it's kinda hard to tell where to use Buzz when you have other stuff to work with, because it does just about everything :P Still, I think as you play with it more you'll get a feel for what it does well/easily and what it does not.

I actually like using Buzz on my laptop, because it's very easy to create music in it without any sort of external input (keyboards, etc). I'm doing a side project right now that's entirely in Buzz, whereas I pretty much don't use it at all for anything else I do.

Fray.

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In my experience, Buzz is very weak for creating lead melodies.
That's a bit of a misnomer, really, considering that Buzz has VST/i support. Besides, I'm sure you're don't know every single machine in it inside out. ;) Although I will agree with you to some extent; getting a really warm / liquid / phat sound out of it can sometimes be a pain, depending on the machine. Speaking of phat sounds, putting a FSM Phatman with a short delay in your bass-sound, (so that practically no "chorusing" can be heard) effects chain = obese. It also works for leads, especially if they're not really big and reverb heavy.
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I think I've got the general jist of it now and I'm starting to see where the electronica style comes from :P

It's a fun piece of software and I think it'll be fun for chiptune like music, but other than high aliased "digital" sounds I'm not counting on doing much else with this. I'm not about to take Cubase back to the store anyway! ;)

Writing melodies is surprisingly easy and fun, but I think it's real limitation comes in the form of automation. Unless I still haven't found the feature that allows you to calculate smooth changes in, say, filter cut-off, it's pretty limited from that point of view... unless you don't mind typing in every single midi value, that is

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I think I've got the general jist of it now and I'm starting to see where the electronica style comes from :P

It's a fun piece of software and I think it'll be fun for chiptune like music, but other than high aliased "digital" sounds I'm not counting on doing much else with this. I'm not about to take Cubase back to the store anyway! ;)

Writing melodies is surprisingly easy and fun, but I think it's real limitation comes in the form of automation. Unless I still haven't found the feature that allows you to calculate smooth changes in, say, filter cut-off, it's pretty limited from that point of view... unless you don't mind typing in every single midi value, that is

Can formulas be applied to automation?

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In my experience, Buzz is very weak for creating lead melodies.
That's a bit of a misnomer, really, considering that Buzz has VST/i support. Besides, I'm sure you're don't know every single machine in it inside out. ;) Although I will agree with you to some extent; getting a really warm / liquid / phat sound out of it can sometimes be a pain, depending on the machine. Speaking of phat sounds, putting a FSM Phatman with a short delay in your bass-sound, (so that practically no "chorusing" can be heard) effects chain = obese. It also works for leads, especially if they're not really big and reverb heavy.

I should have been more specific there -- I think Buzz is just fine for creating the sounds for a lead. I don't for a moment question Buzz' sound generating capabilities. However, for actually performing/programming the melody, I can get much better results with my keyboard and SONAR by playing it "live" but just recording the MIDI. It's a lot more difficult to type the notes into Buzz, especially if I want there to be any dynamics. Yes, you can use Buzz to MIDI-record a performance in realtime, but you're going to get some quantization, even if you do greatly increase the Ticks-Per-Beat (see the "Buzz Help Thread" for more information).

I think I've got the general jist of it now and I'm starting to see where the electronica style comes from

It's a fun piece of software and I think it'll be fun for chiptune like music, but other than high aliased "digital" sounds I'm not counting on doing much else with this. I'm not about to take Cubase back to the store anyway!

Writing melodies is surprisingly easy and fun, but I think it's real limitation comes in the form of automation. Unless I still haven't found the feature that allows you to calculate smooth changes in, say, filter cut-off, it's pretty limited from that point of view... unless you don't mind typing in every single midi value, that is

There is an interpolate function -- the only way to use it is with a hotkey. Look in the help file in the keyboard shortcuts section, it has an explanation.

You still definately want Cubase for a lot of things, like for the same reason I mentioned SONAR above. Plus, you can use Cubase's VST's in Buzz :) However, I would not write Buzz off as only being good for chiptune stuff. Check out some of the demos that come with it if you want to see what I'm talking about.

Fray.

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Nice Triple Post. :nicework: (j/k)

The interpolate function (at least in the version of Buzz I have) is Ctrl+I. Select the values to be interpolated (Ctrl+B and Ctrl+E are very useful for that.. B for the beginning [top] and E for the end [bottom] of the selection), and smack the keys, voila.

Yup, Fray, I'll definately agree with you on that one. The tracker style interface is very cumbersome to sequence in compared to a piano roll sequencer like there is in FL and Reason and just about everything commercial.

Visigoth, no. Well, actually you might be able to do something akin to that with a machine called Peer LFO, but I've never used it, so I'm not exactly sure what it can do / how powerful it is.

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Visigoth, no. Well, actually you might be able to do something akin to that with a machine called Peer LFO, but I've never used it, so I'm not exactly sure what it can do / how powerful it is.

Fruity Formula Controller works like that.

Tis sad when there is no triangular waveform formula.

a+b*2^IfGE(Frac(Songtime()*c),0.5)*Frac(Songtime()*c)-1

I think that is right...

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Apparently there's an XY Controller machine out for Buzz now, made by 7900. I don't know anything else about it, but I will certainly check it out. (from the screenshots, it appears you can choose two parameters and control them with it, but I don't know if formulas can be applied, for instance)

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Apparently ModPlug's site now offers some sort of newbie pack which comes with some sort of tutorial and some decent samples - I haven't tried it out (someone care to fill me in?)

The ModPlug QuikStart kit comes with a nice installer, tutorial (includes sample songs), and a Microsoft GM DLS package. Whether the samples count as "decent" or not is debatable. ;) Get the kit at http://www.modplug.com/modplug/download.php3?session=&download=QSKit

Also, some people might be interested in Microsoft's DirectMusic Producer. A small warning, though: it is NOT designed to be a straight beginning-to-ending MIDI sequencer, although it is capable of doing so. It's more oriented towards interactive/dynamic, event-triggered in-game music. Don't be surprised if you end up writing scripts after using this program for a while. O_o;; Check this link for a list of DMP downloads that you can get, depending on the version of DirectX you currently have.

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Time for emphasizing on the things a strongly disagree with that have been mentioned in this topic:

SOUND CARD:

Sound Blaster Live should be recommended only for beginners. For people who are truely serious about recording should refer to professional soundcards. An Echo Mia is an excellent choice. It costs about $200 and gives to a recording experience that you would never find in anything made by Creative! Keep in mind that even the Echo Mia falls short of what is 'almost' truely professional in recording. The things to look for in hardware are --

- S/N ratio -- this should be low enough to allow a decent dynamic range. Anything that doesn't allow at LEAST 96dB of dynamic range is unacceptable.

- Jacks -- should have at least two 1/4" TRS (that's BALANCED) inputs for recording. XLR is even better, but you normally don't see those on budget equipment.

- Headroom -- sound should never overload under +22dBu. If it does, then you have problems. That's what makes the Echo Mia fall short -- it allows up to +18dBu. Standard recording level (nominal) is +4dBu, which by the laws of sound recording could be as much as +20dBu. This means that with an Echo Mia, you can't record at nominal level, and you can't remaster anything to a DAT or CD at 0dBFS like it should be. Make SURE that you have at least +22dBu of headroom.

- Harmonic distortion -- major distortion of waves should NEVER be above 0.003%. Anything higher is unacceptable and clearly unprofessional.

- Mixing -- should allow mixing the outputs which could be used to allow remastering something at proper level to a DAT or CD.

- Frequencies -- should support frequencies outside our hearing range. Frequencies above 20kHz and below 20Hz actually make the music and sound quality more present. It's there, we just aren't aware. Our ears do pick it up though which in turn can make the recording sound more realistic.

TRACKER:

I must note that MIDI-only sequencers are 'also' trackers. A tracker isn't just for samples. It doesn't even have to support sampling. Although, I don't recommend sampling anyway. I believe a high quality recording calls for recording the sounds rather than taking what's already done. More than likely, the majority of the samples found on the net have a terrible noise level which can add up. I could be wrong since I don't download samples myself, but I can imagine that that's probably the case.

MAGIX:

MAGIX Music Studio is excellent for beginners. The wave editor is by far the best I've seen. However -- I must stress that it doesn't include the things that a professional sound engineer would want.

SONAR:

SONAR is great for MIDI. It does some cool things with mixing sound -- but it's clearly non-professional. There's no option to measure power rather than voltage which a sound engineer would want. There's also no feature for recording 88.2kHz which simply offends me. Any program that supports 96kHz SHOULD indeed support 88.2kHz. 88.2kHz will give you a better DAT and CD master than 96kHz ever would. Dithering helps the 96kHz conversion, but still ruins what could be crystal clean quality.

I hope that my comments could help someone in some way or another.

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It's hard to find many good free Mac music programs around, but you can get a free version of Pro Tools (Mostly a midi / sequencing program I think), and Audacity is pretty good at recording audio and does a little bit of wave editing I think. Check out www.macmusic.org for a bit more info mayhaps.

-Xel

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Time for emphasizing on the things a strongly disagree with that have been mentioned in this topic:

Fair enough, I asked for comments on my guide, thanks for answering.

SOUND CARD:

Sound Blaster Live should be recommended only for beginners. For people who are truely serious about recording should refer to professional soundcards. An Echo Mia is an excellent choice. It costs about $200 and gives to a recording experience that you would never find in anything made by Creative! Keep in mind that even the Echo Mia falls short of what is 'almost' truely professional in recording. The things to look for in hardware are --

- S/N ratio -- this should be low enough to allow a decent dynamic range. Anything that doesn't allow at LEAST 96dB of dynamic range is unacceptable.

- Jacks -- should have at least two 1/4" TRS (that's BALANCED) inputs for recording. XLR is even better, but you normally don't see those on budget equipment.

- Headroom -- sound should never overload under +22dBu. If it does, then you have problems. That's what makes the Echo Mia fall short -- it allows up to +18dBu. Standard recording level (nominal) is +4dBu, which by the laws of sound recording could be as much as +20dBu. This means that with an Echo Mia, you can't record at nominal level, and you can't remaster anything to a DAT or CD at 0dBFS like it should be. Make SURE that you have at least +22dBu of headroom.

- Harmonic distortion -- major distortion of waves should NEVER be above 0.003%. Anything higher is unacceptable and clearly unprofessional.

- Mixing -- should allow mixing the outputs which could be used to allow remastering something at proper level to a DAT or CD.

- Frequencies -- should support frequencies outside our hearing range. Frequencies above 20kHz and below 20Hz actually make the music and sound quality more present. It's there, we just aren't aware. Our ears do pick it up though which in turn can make the recording sound more realistic.

Recommending a $200 piece of hardware in a "Mixing for Free" thread isn't really in the spirit of the guide. The main reason I even mentioned the Sound Blaster at all is for people who still think they can get by with an integrated chip on their motherboard and no real sound card. As you said, it's really only for beginners and people not terribly serious about recording... but if you're reading this guide, it's probably becaus you're a beginner anyway. Thanks for the information, but I'm not sure too many people will have use for it here.

TRACKER:

I must note that MIDI-only sequencers are 'also' trackers. A tracker isn't just for samples. It doesn't even have to support sampling. Although, I don't recommend sampling anyway. I believe a high quality recording calls for recording the sounds rather than taking what's already done. More than likely, the majority of the samples found on the net have a terrible noise level which can add up. I could be wrong since I don't download samples myself, but I can imagine that that's probably the case.

I was mainly referring to trackers in terms of the way they are used to compose. You know, the loop setup, writing patterns... output files in S3M, XM, IT, MOD, etc. In any case, samples (even the free ones) still have their uses, especially for more electronic music (chiptunes, anyone?).

MAGIX:

MAGIX Music Studio is excellent for beginners. The wave editor is by far the best I've seen. However -- I must stress that it doesn't include the things that a professional sound engineer would want.

This appears to be an $80 piece of software, which is quite not free. What functionality does the demo offer, or is it too limited to be useful?

SONAR:

SONAR is great for MIDI. It does some cool things with mixing sound -- but it's clearly non-professional. There's no option to measure power rather than voltage which a sound engineer would want. There's also no feature for recording 88.2kHz which simply offends me. Any program that supports 96kHz SHOULD indeed support 88.2kHz. 88.2kHz will give you a better DAT and CD master than 96kHz ever would. Dithering helps the 96kHz conversion, but still ruins what could be crystal clean quality.

VERY not free software. Again, what can the demo do?

I fear you've misinterpreted my guide. This isn't "List good software for newbies", though that would be a useful thread. Instead, it's "how to get started with mixing and learn your way around without spending a dime, and without using warez."

Also, Xelebes, it's cool. Glad you could help someone.

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I probably did misunderstand the purpose behind the guide. Regardless, don't get the wrong impression if I have given you the wrong impression -- it is a VERY well written guide!

BTW: Just a tiny little note -- MAGIX Music Studio is $25. Very cheap and works very well for beginners =)

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